On Gates' New Funding Approach for Aids

21 Jul
Published by gtaylor


External News


general open research

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an interesting article, Gates Won't Fund Aids Research Unless They Pool Data. My summary and commentary on that aricle:

The Gates Foundation is awarding $287M over 5 years to 165 researchers from 19 countries and they are requiring the recipients to share their data. A few very important quotes from the article:

  • "Through such data sharing, Dr. Hellmann says, rival teams can build on successes, avoid pitfalls and eliminate redundancy." Dr. Hellmann is the interim HIV projects director at the Gates Foundation.
  • "Enforced data sharing, Dr. Self predicted, "increases the pace of discovery enormously rather than waiting for the process of writing formal journal articles, waiting for them to be published, and [confirmed] by other labs." Steve Self is a a biostatistician at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

What is particiularly significant about this is that the Gates Foundation is doing this with Aids, a disease that is not exclusive to tropical regions. There is a profit to be made here. Regardless, this aliance demonstrates that ...' the large enterprise is more important than the position I keep by holding my data close,' (another quote from Steve Self). It appears that the data will be shared across grant recipients and not necessarily wide open on the web. Regardless it's a big step.

They weren't very clear on how they will allow these organizations to profit from their discoveries. However Gates is clearly on the record of respecting intellectual property and the rights to profits.

I hope this is a trend and hope we can go more aggressively open for tropical diseases - where there's no profit to encourage the secrecy.



MatTodd's picture

I agree this is an important turn, which I didn't expect. While the Myelin Repair Foundation has required something similar, the Gates Foundation is obviously a step up in funding magnitude. It will be interesting to see whether this kind of limited release (i.e. to other grant recipients, rather than the wider community) will accelerate progress, or whether it simply creates a new virtual institute of these researchers.